By Sari Lesk
A new mural in the Museum of Natural History at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point marks the 100th anniversary of the extinction of what once was the most prolific bird on the face of the earth.
The mural, painted by local wildlife artist Mary Bratz, depicts Roche A Cri in Wisconsin Rapids with a flock of passenger pigeons flying in the background. A preserved passenger pigeon, which is believed to be the last one shot in Wisconsin, is mounted in front of the mural.
The extinction of the passenger pigeon, once considered by some the most beautiful bird in North America — and without question the continent's most numerous, once numbering as many as 5 billion — can be tied directly to changes in forestry that persist today.